Have you ever noticed that negative thoughts seem to “stick” in your mind with far more frequency than positive ones? If a grocery clerk compliments you on your organized coupon file and then your child’s teacher calls informing you that you failed to return a field trip permission slip, which conversation will you later replay in your head?
What can we do about “sticky” negative comments?
The first step we can take is to become aware of our thoughts. It sounds pretty fundamental, but a lot of people have running soundtracks in their heads that they’re not even aware of. Over and over, they unconsciously replay unkind phrases, names, labels and insults about themselves. The negative soundtrack becomes so familiar, they don’t even recognize that it’s there.
Our negative thoughts come from a variety of sources. We may have labels or names that we feel were “assigned” to us from our family and friends from childhood. We may have assigned negative labels to ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. Other negative labels may have been generated by co-workers, classmates, and peers.
Here’s a simple four-step process to help you begin derailing your negative thoughts before they have an opportunity to derail your goals:
1– Remember to pay attention to your thoughts. At the first hint of a negative thought, picture a giant STOP sign in your mind.
2– Take a deep belly breath. Breathe into the abdomen fully and exhale fully. Do not raise your shoulders.
3– Take just 30 seconds to imagine yourself somewhere that makes you happy. Whether it’s a sunny beach or a snow-covered mountain, imagine yourself free of concerns or pain. Count backwards from 30 as you imagine your worries melting from your body and dripping from your fingertips.
4– Take a final deep belly breath and feel yourself refreshed and renewed.
Now you can CHOOSE to replace your negative thoughts with positive messages. This simple cognitive behavior therapy tool is easy to use in any circumstance. Put it into practice and begin putting a stop to your negative thinking today!